This report contains the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties’ review of the following treaty actions:
Amendment 1 to Revision 1 of the Implementation Procedures for Airworthiness Covering Design Approval, Production Activities, Export Airworthiness Approval, Post Design Approval Activities, and Technical Assistance Between Authorities, under the Agreement on the Promotion of Aviation Safety between the Government of Australia and the Government of the United States of America and Addendum to the Implementation Procedures for Airworthiness between the Government of Australia and the Government of the United States of America;
Australia’s Accession to the Convention on Choice of Court Agreements (The Hague, 30 June 2005);
Amendment of Australia's Schedule of Concessions under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (GATT) and the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization for Implementation of Ministerial Declaration on the Expansion of Trade in Information Technology Products (Nairobi, 16 December 2015) and Ministerial Decision -Export Competition (Nairobi, 19 December2015); and
Partial Revision of the 2012 Radio Regulations as incorporated in the International Telecommunication Union Final Acts of the World Radiocommunications Conference 2015 (WRC-15) (Geneva, 27 November 2015).
The inquiry into the Treaties Implementation Procedures for Airworthiness—USA and Australia’s Accession to the Convention on Choice of Court Agreements lapsed at the end of the 44th Parliament and were re-referred at the beginning of the 45th Parliament. As the previous Committee had called for submissions and conducted a public hearing for the first treaty action, the current Committee resolved to adopt the evidence received by the previous Committee for this treaty action. However, the Committee did pose a number of questions on notice to relevant departments requesting further evidence.
The revision of the implementation procedures for the Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) between Australia and the United States identify additional Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) design approvals which will be accepted by the United States as the basis for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) design approvals. Relevant Australian manufacturers are expected to benefit from the implementation of the changes to BASA. However, the resourcing and efficiency of CASA were questioned during the inquiry.
The Convention on Choice of Court Agreementssets out how courts will treat jurisdiction clauses in private contracts. In these clauses, the contracting parties agree in which court system they will resolve any disputes. Australia’s accession to the Convention will provide greater clarity and certainty in this area.
The amendments to Australia’s Schedule of Concessions in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (GATT) will remove tariffs on a range of technology products and eliminate agricultural export subsidies for parties to the WTO agreement. The Committee acknowledges the significance of these two Ministerial Decisions. While it notes that both will provide incremental improvements for Australian consumers and farmers, the Committee is acutely aware that further work needs to be done to reduce domestic subsidies and non-tariff barriers if more progress is to be made on liberalising global trade.
The partial revision of the Radio Regulations updates the international use of the radiofrequency spectrum, including the allocation of spectrum to radiocommuncations services. Australia has lodged a number of reservations and declarations to the revision.
The Committee has recommended that the four treaty actions reviewed in this report be ratified.